I liked this movie quite a bit when I first saw it in 2003, and it was called Love, Actually. This is nothing but a watered down and Americanized version of the British movie, and it is mired in mediocrity. Just think of this as the ugly stepsister of Love, Actually.
Despite a massive ensemble cast (Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacClaine, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Emma Roberts, and George Lopez) the film lacks any real zip, and for a film about Valentine’s Day, it lacks heart. Don’t let all that star power fool you.
There are a myriad of story lines woven throughout the movie, which takes place on Valentine’s Day, in Los Angeles. Most of the principles are connected to one another in one way or another, and their connections are slowly revealed throughout the movie. Some of the stories work quite well, and others just don’t work at all.
Ashton Kutcher plays Reed, a florist who proposes to his less than thrilled girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba.) His best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner) is giddy over her new boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey), who is actually a two-timing married man. Her best friend Kara (Jessica Biel) is the desperate and lonely career girl with no one to spend Valentine’s Day with.
Kara is a publicist for a football star (Eric Dane) who is considering retiring. Jamie Foxx is a sportscaster trying to find out the real scoop behind the story, in between taping humiliating “What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?” fluff bits for the local television affiliate.
Bradley Cooper sits next to a woman (Julia Roberts) on an airplane who is a an Army Captain on leave for a mysterious reason. Anne Hathaway and Topher Grace are at the beginning of a promising relationship, when he finds out a secret that might bring their romance crashing to a halt.
There are lots, lots more subplots going on, but I can’t possibly fill you in on all the details, and neither can the movie. The quantity of stories hinders the quality of the story-telling. Even with an overly-long two hour run-time, the movie doesn’t do much more than pay lip-service to each of the plot lines.
The acting is pretty decent all around. Taylor Swift has been taking a beating for her “bad” acting, but I thought she was hilarious. Her character is supposed to be a vapid, self-absorbed bubble head. Mission accomplished by Swift.
There is a touching moment toward the end of the film, but there are not enough of these moments to make the film satisfying. I never really felt connected to any of the characters, thus I never got that nice warm feeling you get after watching a good romantic comedy.
Single people should steer clear of this schmaltz fest, because every un-partnered person in the movie is portrayed as desperate, unhappy, and neurotic. It’s downright insulting.
Another misstep that really made me bristle was a token gay relationship literally inserted into the film as an afterthought. It is jarring, pandering and unnecessary.
Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) directs from a screenplay by Katherine Fugate. Some of the funniest lines take place over the end credits where several references are made to Pretty Woman and other inside jokes.
Despite all that, I think that the audience this movie is marketed to will think it is just swell. A sequel is already in the works.
It’s not terrible, it’s just so ordinary. I do wish people would demand a little more from their entertainment.
I give Valentine’s Day 2.5 “rose bouquets” out of 5.